This is a continuation of the previous blog entitled “DILNOT UPDATE 2” on the 6th March 2013.
The one key question that politicians of all parties will not face up to. A “King has got no clothes” situation :-
WILL I HAVE TO SELL MY HOME ?
This is the Daily Mail’s total preoccupation with the “horror” of moving into residential care.
Headline after headline over the last three years has declaimed the gross unfairness of elderly people having to sell their own homes to pay for care, if they move into a residential home. This idea has been so frequently repeated that it has become an accepted “no go area”, even by the Government. No politician will stand up and suggest people should sell their homes to pay for care.
But why do people need to keep their house if they move into residential care? Obviously if their spouse is still alive that is a different matter and is allowed for in the current system. Otherwise there is no rational reason for hanging onto a house you can’t live in. It is only the emotive argument that Mum or Dad’s legacy is being sold to pay for care, when others did not scrimp and save to buy their house and now get their care for free.
Failure to confront the reality of this situation is what holds back the release of billions of pounds that could begin to transform the lives of so many elderly people, who while they hang onto their house, cannot afford good quality care.
Yes, people worked hard all their lives to buy their houses, but it is house price inflation, more than hard work, that really added value to their houses. The hard fact is that while they were paying off their mortgages, people were not saving enough for their retirement. Now, they need to think of their house as their retirement fund rather than hanging onto it to leave to their grown up children.
If they can do both they are lucky. If not their first priority must be to look after themselves, which is what most children would want for them.
The “hang onto your house at all costs” message, so strongly advocated by the Daily Mail and often picked up by the voluntary sector, holds back homeowners from the reality of a better life.
My message is the opposite. Cash in your house now and buy yourself a better life while you are still young enough to enjoy it. Forget the idea that the State will look after you, it won’t. All the evidence is that State funded care in both the NHS and the social care sector, is underfunded and poor quality. It is only through homeowners looking after themselves by downsizing, that there is any chance of a significant amount of additional funds being available to improve the lives of older people. Equity release is an alternative but it is prohibitively expensive.
The missing link, which Dilnot set out to solve but Government intervention in his report has sunk before it got started, is a viable and affordable long-term care insurance market.
The only sensible answer left is a new compulsory social care tax on everyone, to cover the cost of long-term care.